WHO: Millions of children inhaling bad air
Nine in 10 of the world’s children under the age of 15 years breath dirty air leading to their impeded development, a new WHO report discloses. WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
According to the report on Air pollution and child health, prescribing clean air examines the heavy toll of both ambient (outside) and household air pollution on the health of the world’s children, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The report is being launched on the eve of WHO’s first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health.
“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”
The report reveals that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, and have small, low birth-weight children. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.
Newborns and young children are also more susceptible to household air pollution in homes that regularly use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting
“Air Pollution is stunting our children’s brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected. But there are many straight-forward ways to reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants ,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO.